This book was a solid 3.5 stars for me.
I think that for a debut author this is a wonderful start. I enjoyed the premise of the book and for the most part the characters. She tackles a tough topic and does it respectfully and honestly.
Sarah Bray and Lucas Miller are both new to Sycamore Falls… though Sarah grew up there, she left trying to escape the small town mentality and everyone knowing her business. She’s now returned to start a new chapter of her life in the place where she is desperately looking for roots. Lucas is looking to start new as well after a scandal in NYC forces him to reassess what he wants in life.
The two instantly bond and a friendship and eventual relationship forms.
While Lessons Learned does feed into the perceptions of a small town stereotype I can only assume these are accurate never having lived in this type of area. It really makes you think… and wonder, why, even if we don’t agree with a persons lifestyle, we can’t still love and support them as a human being… not only in a small town, but everywhere.
A few things that caused me to reduce the stars:
1. Lucas – I mean don’t get me wrong- the dude is lovely… and perfect. A little too perfect. It was like the author imagined every single thing that the perfect man could do, say or be and dumped it into this character. While that’s lovely, it’s not realistic and at times it kind of took me out of the story. I just think a little more realism in the character would have had me clinging to him a bit more.
2. All the climbing in laps, and carrying of Sarah around. It seemed like everytime they were together she was jumping into his arms. I don’t know… maybe that’s me being picky, but I totally noted it while I was reading.
3. Sarah… *sigh* I REALLY really like to bond with the narrator and main character of the story, and I had a hard time doing that with her. She’s lovely for sure, and to some extent I really liked her, but It seemed like every other chapter she was crying or having a panic attack. I wanted her to be a bit stronger and not have to depend on Lucas for getting better and getting past the terrible thing that happened in her life.
4. It all felt a little bit contrived to me. Without ruining anything for readers, the something that happened to Sarah at her previous school is almost repeating itself at her new school…
While I’m not at all fan of Fade to Black scenes except in YA books, these didn’t truly bother me but please do note they are definitely FTB’s.
What I did Like:
1. Matt Stuart – he was a wonderful addition to the cast of characters and I instantly felt for him. Even though I guessed his ‘secret’ from the get-go, I still enjoyed all the scenes with him.
2. the emotional aspects of this book. As I said above, the topic really gets you thinking about where you stand, and how you treat other human beings. Instead of judging them for their lives and how they live it maybe it’s better to instead acknowledge that you have differing views but care for that person because they have a beating heart instead of who they date or what color skin they have.
This is definitely a promising start for a great new author and I look forward to seeing what she writes in the future. If you love a romance with heart, give this one a read.